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ARCADIA, CA – Kaleem Shah’s Bellafina left no doubt about who is the top 3-year-old filly in the nation on Saturday when she blew past her competition at the top of the stretch and asserted her dominance in the Santa Anita Oaks (G1) at Santa Anita Park.
Breaking from the outside post 5 under Flavien Prat as the 1/5 prohibitive favorite, Bellafina was kept wide entering the clubhouse turn before dropping back slightly and cutting over. The Bob Baffert-trained pair of Flor de La Mar and Chasing Yesterday took turns posting comfortable opening fractions of :24;10, :47.88, and 1:12.51. Ranging up to run three-wide in the far turn, Bellafina hit the top of the stretch with the lead and soon had enough room to cross over to the rail.
Drawing away under a vigorous hand-ride, the Simon Callaghan trainee crossed with a 5 1/4-length advantage in a final time of 1:45.47 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“We were a little wide on the first turn,” Prat said. “I didn’t want to get in any trouble, so I got her to be comfortable and relax. … When we made our move and got the lead, I was quite confident. I’m looking forward to the Kentucky Oaks. I’m confident that she will run better than she did in the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Fillies [G1], when she finished fourth as the favorite).”
Flor de La Mar outfinished her stablemate by 3 1/2 lengths, while the longshot Slewgoodtobetrue never played a factor in the race before jogging across the wire to complete the order of finish. Stirred was scratched.
The Santa Anita Oaks is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Oaks prep race season. Bellafina earned 100 points for the win, with Flor de La Mar receiving 40 for second, Chasing Yesterday 20 for third, and Slewgoodtobetrue 10 for fourth.
Bellafina’s win was her third straight, all in 2019, following stakes scores here in both the Santa Ynez (G2) and the Las Virgenes (G2). The 3-year-old daughter of Quality Road, purchased for $800,000 as a juvenile, now sports a record of 8-6-1-0 with $1,068,000 earned.
“It worked out perfectly,” Callaghan said. “She relaxed great, did exactly what Flavien wanted, and she was there when he wanted her, so it worked out as we hoped. We weren’t sure what the tactics were going to be on the inside of us and we didn’t want to commit to going to the lead because then we could be pressured. We figured staying out wide made sense.”
Bellafina returned $2.60 to win and $2.10 to place, while Flor de La Mar brought back $3.60 to place. There was no show betting.
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